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Meet the 19-Year-Old Fashion Designer Poised to Become the Next McQueen

There are two types of fashion designers: those who can sketch and those who can’t, and 19-year-old New Yorker Rohitava Banerjee falls firmly into the former camp.

A childhood spent drawing pictures prompted by his love of history and lost civilization segued into fashion and apparel design as he got older and Banerjee’s body of work today intertwines the past with the present.

“I chose to go down this career path because there isn’t a single moment when I don’t feel driven to work in this field,” he shared, naming Alexander McQueen and Rei Kawakubo among his favorite designers. “With fashion, I feel complete faith in myself and it’s a daily practice that never ceases to fulfill my needs as a creative individual.”

Last month, the Parsons student made his New York Fashion Week debut as part of the Nolcha Shows at ArtBeam, unveiling an Autumn/Winter 2016 collection of luxury womenswear that he described as inspired by both the financial crisis that befell Greece in recent years and the underworld.

“I found that comparing the current failure of the Greek economy to a sort of death is a story worth telling,” Banerjee explained. “More so, I feel that it is a story I would be able to tell well because of my fascination with the modern occurrences in the world and also my love for the mythological past and history.”

Comprising 30 pieces split into five themes, each representing a story of death and inspired by one of the five Grecian rivers to the underworld (Cocytus, Phlegethon, Lethe, Acheron and Styx), the collection used folk-like patchwork, embroidery and constructed silhouettes to tell a dark tale of woe. The mostly moody color palette was peppered here and there with golden yellow, orange and fiery red.

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“The silhouettes are extremely varied. They all present hard lines taking fluid but harsh orders of shapes. The colors are all inspired by some form of decay in nature. The fabrics arerohitava mainly taffeta and georgette as they maintain very nice structure,” Banerjee said, noting that all the garments were made in Kolkata, India.

He decided to present the collection at the Nolcha Shows, a platform that offers emerging, independent designers the chance to stage their ideas during NYFW, because he was hoping to pique the interest of buyers and industry insiders, describing his target customers as “someone who wants something that makes them feel like a fantastical persona of themselves.”

He added, “My garments try to evoke strength and beauty through their hard silhouettes and insightful detail work. I would love to see my clothes at Neiman Marcus, Saks, Bergdorfs, or just about anywhere that believes in selling garments that are made to make someone look extraordinary.”